Brent Council snubs Willesden Green Library petition despite 6,000 signatures

Town Hall will not hold full debate on controversial plans to redevelop Victorian building

Despite the efforts of thousands of people who signed a petition against the demolition of Willesden Green Library, Brent Council will not be holding a full council meeting to debate about the issue.

Normally, if a petition contains 5,000 or more signatures it can be referred for debate by all councillors on the local authority.

However, as the next meeting is not until May and the fact planning permission is already being sought, the Labour-run council says it cannot wait until then to consider the petition.

Instead, the council says the petition will be considered in a report when the planning application is voted upon.

The planning committee is made up of seven Labour councillors, three Liberal Democrats and one Conservative.

A spokesman said: “Once a petition reaches the 5,000 signature threshold, the organiser of the petition may request that it is referred for debate by Full Council at the next Full Council meeting.

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“As the next meeting isn’t until May and planning permission for the new building is now being obtained, consideration of the petition will not wait until then and will be treated as expressing objections to the demolition of the old library building when the planning application is considered.”

Last Saturday 5,712 people signed the petition in one day against the demolition of Willesden Green Library Centre, in High Road, Willesden.

The petition was handed into Brent Town Hall on Monday.

Residents believe there has been a lack of consultation over the plans to knock down the library centre and the old library that stands next to it which dates back to 1894.

This week the Victorian Society, the national charity which campaigns to preserve Victorian and Edwardian historic environment, backed the crusade to save the reading room.

The arts and crafts style old library is locally listed and has been identified by the council as being a key building within the Willesden Green conservation area.

It holds a prominent position on the High Road at the junction with Brondesbury Park Road.

James Hughes, conservation officer for the Victorian Society, said: “Plans to knock down this attractive building in the heart of Willesden fly in the face of the council’s own guidance.

“Council documents stress the importance of the old library and the need to preserve the character of the conservation area.

“We want to see the council take a more imaginative and sustainable approach to this key site, as the loss of the Victorian library is unnecessary and wasteful.

“It should be possible to build a new cultural centre while retaining this important reminder of Willesden’s heritage.”

The Society has written to Brent Council urging it to rethink its proposals.